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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 18 Jun 2012 (Monday) 17:23
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Portable Background for 3/4 Portraits

 
snyder17315
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Location: Westfield, IN
     
Jun 18, 2012 17:23 |  #1

I'd like to pickup a portable background solution for shooting 3/4 body portraits. I've been looking at some of the folding "pop-up" backgrounds as an option. I don't want or have the space for studio seamless setup. I would like something reversible too - black on one side, white on the other.

So far, I've come across this (and variants): http://www.adorama.com​/SAICBBW.html (external link)

Anyone have any suggestions/experience with something similar? Thanks!


5D MK II
EF 50mm 1.8 | EF 85mm 1.8 | EF 24-70L | EF 70-200L 2.8 IS II
www.jrobertsnyderphoto​graphy.com (external link)

  
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drvnbysound
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Jun 18, 2012 17:30 |  #2

Im not exactly sure if they have one that is Black/White, but I use a Botero 5'x7' collapsible background that works great for 1-2 people shots. I ended up getting the Westcott background stand that is designed to hold collapsible backgrounds - it's VERY similar to a light stand, it just has clips that fit nicely onto the ring of the background. You can find them both at B&H... specific links are in my gear listing (linked in my sig below).

Edit: I just did a quick search and found a pair (black and white)... http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …eversible_Backg​round.html (external link). This also includes a white muslin background as well - I think they are free with all of their collapsible backgrounds. Though, I havent found a use for mine yet...


I use manual exposure settings on the copy machine
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kokakaste2
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Jun 18, 2012 17:49 |  #3

I have Lastolite Grey/White 1.5x1.8m collapsible background. Works nicely for portraits. As drvnbysound mentioned get the stand, otherwise it is tricky to get the background stand up. :)


Oskar (Oscar) - stuff I use- Flickr (external link) - My Facebook page (external link) :)

  
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JLP520
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Jun 18, 2012 17:52 as a reply to  @ drvnbysound's post |  #4

Those Botero backgounds look sweet...Lots of colors and patterns to choose from.


Jeff :cool:

  
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drvnbysound
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Jun 18, 2012 18:21 |  #5

JLP520 wrote in post #14597589 (external link)
Those Botero backgounds look sweet...Lots of colors and patterns to choose from.

... and they are pretty inexpensive. I was referred to Botero by the Strobist (David Hobby)... he used one in his DVD and mentioned the company name ;)

Unfortunately, when I went to purchase I didn't recall what shade of grey he was using. I ended up purchasing the studio grey one (#050), which is fairly light (lighter than pictured - others mentioned this in the feedback). The last time I went through and watched I realized that he was using the "Dark Grey" model (#023), which I think looks a little better.


I use manual exposure settings on the copy machine
..::Gear Listing::.. --==Feedback==--
...A few umbrella brackets I own...

  
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happy2010
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Jun 18, 2012 21:59 |  #6

Dear SNYDER17315,

Backgrounds too, like bags, tripods, monopods, lights etc. (and most of this photography stuff) is such an individual preference, but like buying tires for your car it is often difficult to determine until tested, so…

CAVEAT EMPTOR - as many times with backgrounds, particularly the collapsible type (and many curtain type too) the colors or design you see may not necessarily be what you get; regardless, even using quality manufacturers. [a.k.a. what you see may not be what you get - because of dye lot shifts etc. even black sometimes isn’t black]. While there are many more experienced POTN users than I, my remark is founded based on many time-consuming (even frustrating) iterations with plain and colored/designed backgrounds and looking through hundreds of backgrounds from what seemed like almost every manufacturer on the planet!! Also, while your application is ¾ portrait, you may find that 5ft x 6ft while in lens/fstop calculation theory is ok (& considered adequate by many users, which is great); you may want to give serious consideration to the versatility of the slightly larger 6ft x 7ft (yet 40% more surface area i.e. 42/30 sqft) and the shooting freedom it enables, even if you are space constrained.
[I have both 5ft x 6ft and 6ftx7ft collapsibles and also found the collpapsible backgrounds with attached trains may tend to be somewhat wrinkly at the bottom].

IN SUMMARY - my message is: as a consumer just be aware and select carefully!
(I sense you are already a discerning shopper)

While I am a big fan of Lastolite and Westcott products - both quality manufacturers and most of their products a pleasure to use, I have found several of the Westcott’s curtain backgrounds somewhat thin and collapsible colored design backgrounds less than pleasing to the eye & particularly once photographed. The thinness is not unique to this one manufacturer and seems to be a common trait of many muslin manufacturers, unless using duck muslin. Lastolite has quality construction and favorable opaque without adding weight characteristic, but even several of their colored/designed backgrounds are also less than pleasing colored designs to the eye (again probably because of dye lot shifts or just my luck of the draw, with the ones that I received & have seen almost sickly looking in real life, with too much presence of brown tones for my preference) and I don’t think enhance a portrait. However, others like the colored tones/designs and find them appealing –individual preference/choices right.
In contrast, I have found Lasotiite’s plain color backgrounds (both collapsible & curtain types) to be excellent in every respect!!
http://www.lastolite.c​om …llapsible-backgrounds.php (external link)

Out of frustration I have resorted/concluded to the following strategy for portable backgrounds…
Collapsible and curtain backgrounds in black, white and medium grey(plain and subtle cloud design) using Lastolite’s & Westcotts’s products, which I just gel if want a colored background.

COLLAPSABLE BACKGROUNDS-
http://www.lastolite.c​om …eversible-backgrounds.php (external link) (then see/click on specifications tab)
Lastolite Collapsable 6ft x 7ft – what sounds like a large size, but once you use it a few times is actually very versatile and enables you to handle any application (including ¾ portraits of say approximately 1-4 people). Heck, I am only 5ft 2in so if I can fold one of these things up I most certainly believe you could! It will also stand on its own leaned against a wall etc., but as KOKAKASTE2(Oskar) & DRVNBYSOUND have indicated collapsible backgrounds are preferred (& necessary for 5x6) with a background stand. (I think Westcott and Lastolite background stands maybe sourced from the same supplier perhaps subcontractor and just each have their own branding/packaging, but I am not sure).


CURTAIN BACKGROUNDS-
I find this a reasonably stable setup too
say with two Manfrotto 7.75 ft light stands [Mfr# 1052BAC]:
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …AC_Alu_Air_Cush​ioned.html (external link)
& one Manfrotto Adjustable Background Holder/crossbar [Mfr# 2983; which has a somewhat long closed length of 44”]:
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …le_Background_H​older.html (external link)
which is the same as this Manfrotto Background Kit [Mfr# 1314B; which just also includes a nice carrying case]:
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …round_Support_S​ystem.html (external link)

Lastolite Washable Curtain Muslin-"Washington" (a medium grey with cloud design; say in the 10x12ft, or 12x24ft):
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …_Washable_Backg​round.html (external link)
-is excellent quality, very versatile and a pleasing subtle cloud design, when you want more than just a plain or plain colored background. It can be gelled almost any color in the rainbow. You can just fold the 10x12ft over to fit your available space, or light-weight enough to drape over a collapsible background, say for small children portraits on floor & when you want background & floor coverage. I find this Lastolite product much less wrinkly than other muslins.

Good luck with whatever you choose and hope you enjoy the ease & flexibility that a portable background plays in helping you control your photographic environment…


Mary
P.S. Nice equipment you have!


MARY

  
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drvnbysound
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Jun 18, 2012 22:34 |  #7

Holy information Mary! Nicely summarized.

I just wanted to report back that the Westcott website does have some better pictures of their background stand that show off how it works (such as how it holds the collapsible background) a little better than those on the B&H website: http://fjwestcott.com …apsible-background-stand/ (external link)


I use manual exposure settings on the copy machine
..::Gear Listing::.. --==Feedback==--
...A few umbrella brackets I own...

  
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bobbyz
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Jun 18, 2012 22:51 |  #8

photek people popper.


5dmk3, 35L, 85L II, 300mm f2.8 IS I, 400mm f5.6
Fuji XT-1, 14mm f2.8, 23mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, 56mm f1.2, 90mm f2, 50-140mm f2.8

  
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drvnbysound
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Jun 18, 2012 23:04 |  #9

bobbyz wrote in post #14598939 (external link)
photek people popper.

Looks like the full kit is discontinued (according to B&H (external link) and Adorama (external link)). Though, the individual background stands are still available (external link).


I use manual exposure settings on the copy machine
..::Gear Listing::.. --==Feedback==--
...A few umbrella brackets I own...

  
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happy2010
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Jun 18, 2012 23:46 as a reply to  @ drvnbysound's post |  #10

Thank you for the fjWestcott stand link for all of us DRVNBYSOUND; agree the reformatted Westcott web site has a better image than the always informative B&H site.


F.Y.I. (if you haven’t seen it already)…

Regarding STANDS for collapsible backgrounds– Lastolite’s telescopic version [Mfr #1103] for up to a 6ft x 7ft background appears to be maybe being replaced with a 5-peice pole stand [Lastolite Mfr# 1116], which I don’t like as well as the traditional telescopic stand. I have both types (telescopic & new 5pc), but find the traditional telescopic version easier to use.
It will be interesting to see if FJWestcott and other manufacturers migrate also; time will tell…
http://www.lastolite.c​om/backgroundsupportsy​stems.php (external link) (see/click on specifications tab)

Up until approx three months ago, both Lastolite & Westcott web sites listed their background stands (for up to 7ft collapsible backgrounds) as “SKU/CODE 1103”.
(Lastolite’s web site appears to no longer list that code 1103)

USA retailers B&H, Adorama & Samy’s don’t appear to have Lastolite’s New 5pc background STAND [Mfr #1116] listed as a web-site inventory item. Appear to only list the traditional Lastolite telescopic type background stand. (yet I see UK retailers list the NEW style background stand, as does Canadian retailer Vistek).
http://www.vistek.ca/s​earch/Lastolite%201116​.aspx (external link)


Mary
(P.S. The perimeter wire of a 6ft x 7ft collapsible background is a bit wider than that of a 5ft x 6ft collapsible background)


MARY

  
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drvnbysound
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Jun 19, 2012 00:08 |  #11

Ehh, while I do want a standard support system eventually (when I decide to pick up some seamless), I too really prefer the telescopic version that I have now, particularly for the collapsible backgrounds.


I use manual exposure settings on the copy machine
..::Gear Listing::.. --==Feedback==--
...A few umbrella brackets I own...

  
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Portable Background for 3/4 Portraits
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